The First Time I Failed: Advice from an Online University Student

I remember it like it was yesterday. Failing my first assessment in the Social Science Program of the WGU Teachers College online. It was the beginning of my junior year and I had been sailing along swimmingly. The PASSES were accumulating nicely in my degree plan. That was until my habit of “going it alone” finally caught up to me.

The subject: U.S. history 1865 to present.

“How could I call myself a social science major and fail a history course?” I asked myself. Now I wouldn’t call myself a perfectionist, but I truly hate falling short. The NOT PASSED on the Coaching Report had me so shaken up that I called my mentor in tears.

Fortunately, he had a gem of wisdom for my shattered ego.

“Take a few days to recover, clear your mind, and then contact the course mentor for tips on how to tackle the test. After all, that’s what the Learning Communities are there for.”

And he was right. This particular assessment covered so much material that my personal knowledge alone wasn’t going to cut it. So, I checked out the Community. I studied to shore up my weak areas and passed the assessment on the next go-around.

The key to the quick rebound was not getting bogged down in the failure. I learned my lesson and kept it moving. We can’t win all the time, and obstacles mustn’t be excuses to quit or throw in the towel. Sometimes we simply need to reevaluate our study habits.

Some of us come to Western Governors University with extensive knowledge in our fields, but that doesn’t mean we’re foolproof. If we regularly use the resources (i.e. MyLab, the Library, and the course mentors) our collegiate journey will contain fewer tears.

If the study of social sciences has taught me anything, it’s that successful people fail, too. They just don’t stop trying. In fact, the best leaders actively surround themselves with those who are experts in their fields. At WGU they’re called course mentors.

Seek out their knowledge, and the rest, as they say, will be history.

LaQueshia Jeffries is a WGU student working toward her bachelor’s degree in social science in the WGU Teachers College.

She lives in the Chicago-land area and blogs at

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